Historic rehabilitation

Saturday 01 Sep 2012

Designed by Nick Milkovich Architects Inc. and Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, Planning, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture

This project is a conservation rehabilitation of an historic public plaza at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, that once was the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1880’s).

As a vibrant community centre, the Plaza still suffered from lack of everyday use in the rapidly densifying Yaletown neighbourhood of downtown Vancouver. Outside a few programmed activities, the Turntable Plaza was primarily a ‘pass through’ space that lacked amenities to encourage social interaction or casual public enjoyment of the space.

The client brief mandated the project protect, promote and enhance the existing character and heritage values of the Turntable Plaza while introducing more contemporary but historically compatible elements to animate the Plaza and create a stronger the sense of place. Client brief response as follows:

1. Reorientation of the Turntable Bridge approximately 25 degrees to better engage the semi-circular Roundhouse edges, more clearly defining the performance area and minimize the pedestrian ‘pass through’ effect.

2.Addition of an articulating Crane and flexible Canopy over the performance area providing weather protection, support for aerial performers, lighting and banners, or a projection surface for special events. The crane recalls industrial aspects of rail history and during winter months, the crane, alone, becomes a sculptural focal point for the Plaza.

3. Addition of a user activated Mist Feature, referencing the ‘Age of Steam Power’, provides an interactive play opportunity for children. Coordinated with a programmed LED lighting system, this feature magically transforms the Plaza at night.

4. Addition of ‘soft elements’ such as movable modular seating and a few trees. Additional fixed seating was integrated along the perimeter edge of the Turntable pit area and follows the two accessible ramps. A ‘viewing’ platform was created for observation of the historic bridge turning mechanism and heritage display panels incorporated into the guardrails.


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